I didn’t skip class very often in high school, but when I did I made it a point to skip the liberal brainwashing class (a.k.a. “Parenting Class”). Now that I think back on it, maybe I should have skipped that one more often.
Of course during the time of day that that class ran, no busses ran into my neighborhood. The nearest route that I knew of ran two miles away if I took the shortcut from Pennsylvania Ave, across Scott Woods, through Mount Hope Cemetery to the corner of Aurelius and Forest road then down Forest for the second mile and home. It seems complicated, perhaps too complicated.
It was a cool cloudy day, about fifty degrees, with a slight drizzle. Good weather for sweaters and a brisk hike in Michigan; and I was happy enough. However; I had only taken the shortcut I was looking for once, and from the opposite direction. While walking through the woods I couldn’t quite remember if the proper trail was before the bridge to the right, of after the bridge to the left (I’ve come to the conclusion that I was not a very clear thinking teenager and I had a poor sense of direction while under tree cover). I went on the trail before the bridge to the right thinking that if I got a little lost I, wouldn’t get too lost; I could just find the creek and follow it back.
The march to the right started out well and good, the trail was mostly clear; but this was the season of spring rainstorms. Puddles were everywhere the creek was running high and fast. I wanted to stay dry and avoided the puddles across the trail even to the point of leaving the trail to go around them. Eventually I lost the trail to an exceptionally large, muddy puddle that stretched into the trees in both directions. I decided that in order to get back to the trail I was going to have to get a little wet and cross the puddle.
I was careful. Puddles can sometimes go up to the knees. I took one step and it was about two inches shallow. Encouraged, I took a more eager step forward. The puddle was about seven feet shallow with a swift current and a slight undertow. I kicked hard off the bottom and the very first thing I thought when my head broke the surface was, “I am stupid”. Fortunately, the current didn’t carry me to the center of the stream and I was able to grab a root and pull myself out.
I began the trudge back along the deceptively smooth appearing creek determined that trail or not, the stream could not be trusted and must stay in my sight no matter how many puddles I had to walk through, just in case it tried to trick me again.
As I splashed back to the main trail, thoughts of what the news headlines would read swirled through my head: “Unidentifiable Teenager Found Dead in Scott Woods of Hypothermia While Skipping Class” or “Death by Stupidity: Teenage Girl Wins Darwin Award First Class”.
After a few minutes I decided these thoughts were not helping and to just focus on moving swiftly and getting home alive. I made it home and was maybe a little wiser for the wear.